By: Eric Thomas

We’ve all said the phrase, at least once. We’ve all, in some way or another, managed to voice our utter displeasure for the NHL lockout. But we haven’t really experienced it yet. It isn’t even January yet. Let’s face it; you don’t watch Hockey before football finishes anyway.

Detroiters can be notoriously fickle hockey fans, those of us from here aren’t fooled by the “Hockeytown” moniker. The standard joke is that the people who have more than Red Wings flag screwed into the roof would tell you that “icing” is the stuff you smear on a cake.

January will be awful on a level we haven’t seen before. There is going to be nothing on. I hope you like college basketball, because everything else is going to be tough to watch.

This is the part in the blog where people start screaming and spitting at their screen, angry. “Eric, the NHL had done this before. There wasn’t a 04-05 season!” people are probably saying. That season, there was other things to watch. The Pistons were defending champions, and hockey fights were replaced with ones at the Palace (hey-o!).

This year, the Pistons are like a fawn still preparing to walk. Brandon Knight is Jekyll and Hyde from one night to the next; Andre Drummond is still three years from being able to drink legally. These Pistons aren’t a reliable substitute for the Red Wings unless they’re good, a la 2003 when the Ducks swept the Wings out of the first round of the playoffs and Detroit noticed they still had a basketball team. So that won’t work.

Trust me, there is NOTHING going on this winter. It’s a wasteland until Spring Training. There are no good movies this winter, as January is usually the dumping ground for movies that didn’t come out right. At the end of the month there is actually a film being released called, which I swear I am not making up, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” Or how about “The Dark Truth,” a movie about “A former CIA operative turned political talk show host is hired by a corporate whistle blower to expose her company’s cover-up of a massacre in a South American village.”

No concerts, either. Nothing. Quicksand is playing on January 11th, but I’m probably the only one who cares about that. The next thing on the distraction calendar is a Led Zeppelin tribute band in Ferndale on February 2nd. I think you are starting to understand. There will nothing to watch, nothing to look forward to. January is a frightening void of distraction looking like it will be filled with interactions with our spouses and children.

I suppose it’s entirely possible that the eyes of the city could turn to the Michigan basketball team, so completely ignored until now they might actually die of shock if everyone in the area started caring. The Wolverines probably have their most talented team since the Fab Five, which isn’t saying much. So has Gonzaga and the local VFW hall. But they’re undefeated, which tends to be a stinking bait pile for front runners.

People might point out that Michigan is undefeated because they have played largely tomato soup cans. This is true, but front runners who start running alongside the wagon aren’t paying attention to the facts. The Wolverines have the chance to capture the attention of the area, but if they lose one game, it’s ruined. No pressure, Trey.

The big losers of the NHL lockout has to be the businesses downtown. I think we should, as an area; all try to make at least one trip into the D this winter. Go have dinner, a couple of drinks, and tip well. There are plenty of businesses down there that are hurting this winter and it’s a good idea to help. Start a Facebook page on that, or something.

In January, there will be nothing to do, nothing to watch, it will be cold gray and hopeless. It’s going to have all the comfort of a Cormac McCarthy landscape. We are going to actually miss the drama of the Melrose Place Lions. That’s really saying something.


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